SUN Hockey Pool

Was Roy nearly a Leaf?

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:04 AM ET

Patrick Roy debunked a few myths as he entered the Hockey Hall Of Fame last night but took Maple Leaf fans on a quick trip to Fantasy Island.

The National Hockey League career leader with 551 wins said Toronto was on a short list of teams he thought would trade for him when he staged his public walkout on the Montreal Canadiens during a game on Dec. 2, 1995.

"At the time, it was clear they were trading me to Detroit, Toronto, Chicago or Colorado," Roy said, as he joined ex-Leaf/Hab Dick Duff, Calgary Flames executive Harley Hotchkiss and the late Herb Brooks as the Hall's newest inductees. "But if we start talking about 'if and if and if', we're not going to go very far."

Cliff Fletcher, then the general manager of the Maple Leafs, does not recall any serious discussions with the Canadiens about Roy. Fletcher did have a young French Canadian goaltender at the time in Felix Potvin, a stipulation in any trade with the Habs. It is likely Doug Gilmour's or Mats Sundin's name would've come up, too.

"But do you really think the fans in Montreal would've settled for Roy playing for the Leafs, of all teams?" Fletcher said yesterday. "No way."

Roy, of course, wound up winning two Cups with the Avalanche, in a deal that saw Jocelyn Thibault become Montreal's new goalie. The Habs have been looking for the next Roy ever since.

Roy put the former Quebec Nordiques on the hockey map and won two Cups. But after being humiliated that fatefull night when coach Mario Tremblay left him in for nine goals and snapping at owner Ronald Corey as he exited the bench, Roy insists he has buried the axe with the Canadiens, who will likely retire his No. 33 at some point.

"I think Montreal did me a favour, allowing me to go to a team that I felt could win the Cup," Roy said. "I was extremely happy to see in a (Journal de Montreal) article a few days ago, to hear Mr. Corey's side of the story. He's right, it is important for me to move on now. Looking back, I think we brought joy to Habs fans and even probably surprised somewhat with the two Cups we won. That's what I want people in Montreal to remember."

Roy was questioned on a number of aspects about his career yesterday, laughing off the legend that he talked to his goalposts as lost in translation with a teammate who used to interpret English for him.

Nor was he born to butterfly, starting off as a forward before making the switch to goal. The Habs insisted he learn his craft as a stand-up stopper until his last year of junior hockey, when he met goalie coach Francois Allaire.

"He encouraged me to keep playing butterfly and really helped me to improve my technique," Roy said.

Duff paid special tribute to his mother, who bore 13 children in Kirkland Lake. Duff was No. 6, the same number of Cups he won with Montreal and Toronto.

Hotchkiss, who has been chairman of the NHL board of governors for the past 10 years, acknowledged the plight of small-market teams, but said it was never the aim of the Flames' partners to compete financially with the Leafs.

"We got involved (moving the Atlanta Flames to Calgary in the 1980s) for love of the game and love of the community," Hotchkiss said.

Brooks, architect of the 1980 Miracle on Ice that won Team USA gold at the Lake Placid Olympics was represented by his son, Dan, who was a wide-eyed 12-year-old at the time.

Also entering the Hall last night were former Sun sports editor Scott Morrison, winner of the Elmer Ferguson Award for his two decades of writing, and Flames broadcaster Peter Maher, winner of the Foster Hewitt Award.


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